Brig. Gen. Richard Tryon, left, commanding general at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, talks with Master Sgt. Donald S. Parrish of Marine Wing Support Squadron 273 and wife, Laura Parrish, on Wednesday morning at the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort. Parrish, an explosive ordnance specialist, was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Combat Distinguishing Device for Valor for his efforts in diffusing roadside bombs in Iraq.
Marine sergeant receives medal for leading disposal work in Iraq
Even though he's been back from Iraq since March, Marine Corps Master Sgt. Donald Parrish said he still keeps a lookout for bombs hidden on the side of the road.
From September 2004 to March, Parrish took the lead in finding and diffusing improvised explosive devices, weapons caches and any other weapons that could harm his fellow troops.
A roadside bomb in Iraq would sometimes be connected to a wire, Parrish said, and after a while, the inconspicuous line of dirt going away from a bomb became apparent.
"To the naked eye, you wouldn't notice," he said.
For his part in leading an explosive ordnance disposal platoon, Parrish was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with a Combat Distinguishing Device for Valor on Wednesday morning at a Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort ceremony.
While serving as the explosive ordnance disposal officer-in-charge of Marine Wing Support Squadron 273, Parrish led the destruction of 60 weapons caches and the disposal of more than 25,000 unexploded ordnance items and 226,000 small arms.
Parrish also defused 518 improvised bombs and explosives within a 22-day period, many times under intense enemy fire.
Often, the explosive detonations would herald the start of an insurgent assault, Parrish said.
"We had minutes on the scene before we started getting mortared or attacked," he said.
Brig. Gen. Richard Tryon, commanding general of Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island and the Eastern Recruiting Region, presented the award to Parrish.
"He's going to be a little embarrassed by all the attention," Tryon said of Parrish. "He will say, 'Sir, I was just doing my job.'"
Many Marines and sailors are in Iraq doing their duty, and they are all to be commended as well, Tryon said.
"This is a Marine who's been there and done that," Tryon said. "The award we read here shouldn't surprise anybody."
After the ceremony, as his squadron dispersed, Parrish said he had mixed feelings about receiving the Bronze Star.
While glad to be recognized, Parrish said it's hard for deployed personnel because many citizens don't know the dedication of troops in Iraq, some of whom go right from training and into the fray.
Often, the media does not pay attention to the quality work these young men and women are doing, he said.
"What they don't see is the outstanding jobs our Marines and sailors are doing," he said. "They deserve to stand here with me, if not before me."
And though he is now back home in Beaufort, lingering thoughts of planted explosives have followed him, Parrish said.
"I'm still doing it here in the states, watching for (bomb) markers on the side of the road," he said. "It's a heightened state."